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Get the Popcorn

It was only a matter of time a very short matter, in fact before someone found a way to make money off the violent but botched bank robbery at Bank of America’s North Hollywood branch in late February.

That’s right, MVP Home Entertainment Inc. is raking in the bucks these days with one of its newest releases, titled “North Hollywood Shootout: Terror in the Streets of L.A.”

It may not be the perfect “date” video, but MVP’s homemade documentary must be appealing to someone.

The video is a compilation of TV news footage of the shootout and subsequent scenes and interviews shot by producer James Strauss.

Since it first hit the streets in early March, “Terror in the Streets” has sold between 70,000 and 80,000 copies at $14.95 a pop, said MVP spokeswoman Meredith Emmanuel.

One of the video’s biggest buyers to date has been police officers themselves, she added.

Still, that fact was of little use when Emmanuel was recently pulled over for speeding and attempted to worm her way out by mentioning MVP’s latest production and its positive portrayal of the L.A.P.D.

“He said, ‘That’s great,’ and we talked about the whole thing, but he still gave me the ticket,” she said, noting that the officer fined her $136 for driving 42 miles per hour in a 35 mile-per-hour zone.

So, what kind of an encore can we expect now from MVP?

It’s none other than “Heaven’s Gate: A California Culticide,” due out in stores this week.

Never Mind the Details

Environmental activists protesting the proposed DreamWorks SKG development at Playa Vista launched pickets and a boycott last week, but they seemed a little confused about their targets.

Members of the Wetlands Action Network urged a boycott of the film “The Lost World: Jurassic Park” by picketing at the La Brea Tar Pits. The site was apparently chosen because of the movie’s dinosaur theme, but there are no dinosaurs bones at La Brea the museum houses the remains of prehistoric mammals.

Further, the boycott of “The Lost World” is intended to target DreamWorks, but the film was actually produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin’ Entertainment and distributed by Universal Studios Inc.

Spielberg is, of course, a partner in DreamWorks, but the fledgling studio had nothing to do with “The Lost World.”

Star Cars

What do the rich-and-famous do when their cars break down? They might have the money to rent a Bentley or a Rolls but that might still be a bit too obvious. The solution: Rent-A-Wreck. The West L.A. rental agency has catered to the likes of Oliver Stone, Pierce Brosnan, Kathleen Turner, members of the Kennedy family, Paul Newman and Jerry Garcia, said company founder Dave Schwartz. Henry Fonda used to rent a pick-up truck there, and Newman’s favorite was a 1957 Cadillac. Despite the name, Schwartz said these cars run well: “It may be a catchy name, but our cars are well-maintained and run great.”

Let the Blenders Begin

After 12 years in business, the La Serenata de Garibaldi Mexican restaurants in East L.A. and Westwood are saying bye to dry.

Since the start, serving beer and wine has been fine with owners Jose and Aurora Rodriguez, but the two have declined to serve hard liquor drinks including tequila margaritas (wine margaritas are sold), saying they want their establishments known for their food rather than their bar.

However, their son and the eventual company heir Marco has long lobbied his folks to seek a liquor license, pointing out what a money maker the drinks are for other restaurants.

Marco recently told the Business Journal that his parents finally relented. An application is in for the license and the blenders ought to be blazing away later this year.

“Serving mixed drinks and margaritas can be very profitable for restaurants, and someday when I retire from this place I’d like to have some money to show for my work,” Marco Rodriguez said.

Wheels of law

New York rock band The Spin Doctors reached a settlement with the Miller Brewing Co. last week, a day after a Los Angeles jury found Miller liable for using one of the band’s songs in a commercial without permission.

The jury found that Miller used a song almost exactly like the band’s hit “Two Princes” in a television commercial.

The band, which has not had a hit single in several years, had been seeking $11.5 million in damages. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed by either side but when band members saw the settlement amount on court papers they reportedly cracked ear-to-ear grins and began shaking hands with each other enthusiastically.

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